Testing fire safe cigarettes on flame retardant fabric

The dangers posed by a discarded cigarette can be astronomical. A small burn in the fabric of a bed sheet can quickly evolve into a fire that ends up consuming the entire room. At the forefront of textile technologies, Vision Support Services, through its specialist Whitakers range, have developed and manufactured flame retardant fabrics through intensive research and development adhering to British Standards for flame retardancy which have proven to lessen the impact of damage in a fire.

Statistics show that cigarettes and other smoking materials, such as cigars or tobacco, are responsible for 36% of all deaths caused by fires in a residence. Due to their purpose, care homes, healthcare establishments and custodial residences present additional risk when it comes to fire safety.

Prisons, by their very nature, are designed to keep people inside whereas evacuating those who are less-able bodied may prove to be a risk in healthcare establishments. As well as smoking regulations and the introduction of fire-safe cigarettes, many establishments now have strict protocols to follow in case of a fire as well as numerous fire fighting equipment readily available.

New laws were introduced in 2011 to ensure that every cigarette sold in the EU had to meet a reduced ignition propensity requirement (RIP). This means that the cigarette paper must have special bands of paper which would cause the cigarette to extinguish if it is not actively smoked; therefore reducing the likelihood of a fire.

It may be surprising to learn, then, that in 2013, in London alone, there were 10 fires a week in the area’s care homes and accommodations whilst prison fires have gone up a third between 2014 and 2015.


How to Fire-Proof Your Establishment with Fire Retardant Fabrics

Aside from using fire safe cigarettes, you can drastically decrease the likelihood of a large fire by using flame retardant fabrics in your establishment. This includes products like flame retardant bed linen, flame retardant curtains, flame retardant pillows and more.

The Whitakers range of fire retardant bedding has been created specifically to adhere to the highest fire retardancy standard of B.S.7175 Ignition Source 7. B.S.7175 details the test procedures needed to measure the resistance of bed covers and bedding and ignited by a number of flaming sources ranging from 0; a lit cigarette, 1-3; a burner or butane flame and 4-7; a wooden crib comprised of wooden planks, glued together with lint attached to the bottom.

West Midlands Fire Service, in partnership with Vision’s specialist Whitakers range of flame-retardant fabrics and bedding, conducted extensive tests on our range of bedding and to highlight the importance of introducing fire-retardant fabrics into any care or custodial establishment.


Whitakers Fire-Retardant Bedding Test with West Midlands Fire Service

The above video is a test to simulate what would happen to the fire retardant bed sheets if a person were to carelessly discard a cigarette whilst they were resting in bed.

The test uses two types of cigarette. In the video it is described as EU-compliant cigarettes and non-EU compliant cigarettes, which basically means fire safe cigarettes and non-fire safe cigarettes.

The fire-fighters light each cigarette and then place the non-fire safe cigarettes on the right-hand side of the bed while the fire safe cigarettes are placed on the left-hand side. They are then left to burn to see what effect it has on the bedding and to see how long each cigarette lasts.

According to scientific tests carried out on upholstered furniture, it takes just 22 minutes for a flaming fire to occur when a cigarette has been discarded.

The test found that the compliant cigarettes extinguished as expected but the non-compliant cigarettes continued to burn for a longer period.

In regards to the fire retardant bedding used in the test, it performed well when tested with both types of cigarette and certainly prevented the spread of fire. So even if the cigarette isn’t a fire safe version, having fire retardant bedding would successfully stop the initiation of raging fire.

In conclusion, we learn that while using fire safe cigarettes is certainly the safest option, the accidental discarding of a non-fire safe cigarette will still be successfully dealt with the use of flame retardant fabric.

Read more about the importance of fire retardant bedding.